Saturday, March 16, 2013

"Don't Ask Me Why" by Billy Joel

Song#:  0283
Date:  08/02/1980
Debut:  71
Peak:  19
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop



Pop Bits:  Joel's new wave-oriented "Glass Houses" LP was a major hit with the first two rockin' singles, "You May Be Right" (#7) and "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" (#1), doing well to smash the good-guy, soft rock balladeer image that he was being tagged with at the time. But this third single found Joel back in AC mode and it didn't do as well as the previous singles. However, it appropriately became his second #1 on the AC chart.

ReduxReview:  After the previous two singles, I can see where this song could be a letdown. My musical ears tell me this is a good song, but my personal taste ears hears just a minor pop shuffle. I love a lot of Billy Joel songs, but this is one that I never connected with. It ended up being perfect for AC radio, but for the rest of us...eh.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Joel has a half-brother (via their father), Alexander Joel. Alexander lives in Germany and is the conductor of the Staatstheater Braunschweig.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

"Rock It" by Lipps, Inc.

Song#:  0282
Date:  08/02/1980
Debut:  83
Peak:  64
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Disco, Dance, Pop

Rock It by Lipps, Inc. on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  So you just had a massive #1 platinum single. A follow-up song should pretty much be a slam-dunk, right? Not really. Sometimes it just doesn't translate into string of hits and for Lipps, Inc., that was the case. This song was originally the first single from their "Mouth to Mouth" album but it didn't get any attention. After the second single "Funkytown" hit it big, the label reverted back to "Rock It" for the follow-up song. When compared to "Funkytown," the song tanked and Lipps, Inc. never got back on the pop chart again. They are considered a one-hit wonder, but technically this minor chart song keeps them from that distinction.

ReduxReview:  Really, "Funkytown" is so distinctive what could you follow it up with? This song certainly did not fill the bill. Plus, having disco flying down the slide to oblivion certainly didn't help. This is an okay disco jam. There is just nothing as immediate and catchy as the elements that made up "Funkytown." Unfortunately, I think it was a no-win situation for the group. But they did last for three more albums and a few dance hits.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  Guitarist David Rivkin was part of the studio group that became Lipps, Inc. Although his name may not be familiar to most, anyone who is a big fan of Prince will know him better as David Z. He worked with Prince on some of his recordings and his brother Bobby Z. was the original drummer in Prince's band The Revolution. David Z. also produced the Fine Young Cannibal's #1 hit "She Drives Me Crazy."
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Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Fool for Your Love" by Whitesnake

Song#:  0281
Date:  08/02/1980
Debut:  84
Peak:  53
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Hard Rock

Fool for Your Loving by Whitesnake on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  When you bring up the UK band Whitesnake these days, it usually conjures up images of big hair, MTV, and Tawny Kitaen. But the group has roots in another legendary band - Deep Purple. Long before he founded Whitesnake, David Coverdale was chosen to replace Deep Purple's lead singer Ian Gillan in 1973. Coverdale stayed with the band until it's first disbanding in 1976. He chose to go solo and released two LPs before forming Whitesnake with members of his touring band. Their debut album came out in 1978 and did well in the UK and their next album did even better. They got a little bit of success in the US when their third album "Ready an' Willing" came out in 1980 featuring this middling chart song. Unfortunately, they would return to being ignored in the US after this album until 1984.

ReduxReview:  This almost has a slight ZZ Top feel to it mixed with a little Foreigner, but just not as good as either. But I think it is a pretty decent late 70s hard rock tune put out long before Whitesnake really went down the hair metal road.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Coverdale's first solo album was called "White Snake." It was not a success, but Coverdale ended up using the title as the name for his new band.  2) This song was revisited and re-recorded by the group for their 1989 album "Slip of the Tongue" and also released as the first single from the album.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Stranger in My Home Town" by Foghat

Song#:  0280
Date:  08/02/1980
Debut:  85
Peak:  81
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Rock



Pop Bits:  This British blues-rock band had a string of successful albums in the 70s with their highest charting single being "Slow Ride" (#20, 1975). They spent a good part of the decade on tour which eventually caused a couple of members to drop out. In 1979, they had their second biggest single with "Third Time Lucky" (#23) and set out to record a new album. They shifted their sound a bit to hook into the then-current new wave movement but it was not well-received. This first single from the album "Tight Shoes" barely saw chart action and the album itself was the group's first to peak outside of the Top 40 since their second album in 1973. The stumble would be one they would not recover from and this song would prove to be their last chart entry.

ReduxReview:  The sound may be updated to new-wave-ish, but it still has cowbell! Being familiar with "Slow Ride" and a couple of other songs, I wasn't expecting the sound of this song. It is good for artists to change it up and experiment, but sometimes it doesn't really work well. In Foghat's case, I think they might have lost their identity with this and it ended up sounding everyone else doing new wave at the time.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  The name Foghat stems from a word lead singer/guitarist Dave Peverett made up one day when playing Scrabble with his brother.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Whatever You Decide" by Randy VanWarmer

Song#:  0279
Date:  08/02/1980
Debut:  87
Peak:  77
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Soft Rock



Pop Bits:  Born in Colorado, VanWarmer spent some time in the UK after his family had moved there but eventually ended up back in the States where he was a struggling musician. The New York label Bearsville picked up a single of his and in one of those rare switcharoo instances, the intended b-side started to catch on and eventually VanWarmer had his first (and only) Top 10 hit in 1979 with "Just When I Needed You Most." His debut album "Warmer" did moderately well thanks to the single and he was green-lighted for a second disc. The "Terraform" LP came out in 1980, but this lead single didn't do much to boost sales.

ReduxReview:  The alt-country sound of this song is really nice, but the chorus is oddly weak/strong. It kind of gets lost between the verses, but yet it still kind of sticks in my head. Even the bridge is a better section. I just think the chorus needed a little more oomph to really move the song forward.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Even though VanWarmer's recording career didn't have longevity, his songs would be picked up and recorded by other aritists; many in the country genre. One song from "Terraform," "Down Like a Rock," ended up on Laura Branigan's debut album. He has also had two #1 country hits with Alabama and the Oak Ridge Boys recording his songs.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

"Everything Is Alright" by Spider

Song#:  0278
Date:  08/02/1980
Debut:  88
Peak:  86
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Pop, Rock



Pop Bits:  Spider's second single from their debut album just had a few minor weeks on the chart and didn't build on the Top 40 success of their first single "New Romance (It's a Mystery)" (#39). But a pair of chart songs was enough to get their label to push for a second disc.

ReduxReview:  This is another solid song written by group member Holly Knight. It's not as catchy as their first single, but it is a worthy follow-up. I'm not sure why, but by the time the song is ending I get the feeling that this could have been a pretty good Journey track.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Kiss drummer Peter Criss was still recovering from injuries related to a car crash when the group was recording their album "Dynasty." Spider member Anton Fig was hired to replace Criss on the drums for the sessions. He also did the drums for the follow-up album "Unmasked." He was not given any credits on the albums and Kiss management hid the fact for years, making it seem like Criss did all the drum work when in fact he only did one song on "Dynasty." Criss left the band soon after and was then fully replaced by Eric Carr.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

"Darlin'" by Yipes!

Song#:  0277
Date:  08/02/1980
Debut:  89
Peak:  68
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Power Pop

Darlin' by Yipes on Grooveshark

Pop Bits:  Hailing from Milwaukee, Yipes! was a group headed by songwriter/lead singer Pat McCurdy. They formed in the late 70s and ended up getting signed by RCA/Millennium. Their self-titled debut appeared in 1978 and made a brief appearance on the album chart. It seemed to be enough for the label to ask for a second LP and in 1980 they issued "A Bit Irrational." The single lifted from the album is this song that got them a few weeks on the singles chart. Unfortunately this time around it was not enough and the label dropped the band and group eventually disbanded. McCurdy continues to perform, but these days he has a solo cabaret act that he does frequently around the Midwest.

ReduxReview:  This is quite a pumped-up version of the original (see below). It's a good song from the Beach Boys' "Wild Honey" album and translates pretty well to power pop. I'm not sure the group did anything to advance the song except amp it up a bit, but they did a nice job with it. I heard a couple of other songs by them and they seemed like a fun, quirky group. But there were a lot of other pop/new wave groups at the time and they may just not have distinguished themselves from the crowd.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This song is a remake of a Beach Boys tune. Their original peaked at #19 in 1968 and for the next nine years was their last Top 20 song. The song also charted in 1978 as a duet by Paul Davis and Susan Collins. They made it to #51.  2) McCurdy was asked in 2008 to write a song for the Green Bay Packers to be played in the stadium. He wrote "I Love the Green and Gold" and starred in a video for the song that also featured Larry the Cable Guy.

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